How to Determine Your Key Metrics

How to Determine Your Key Metrics

Measuring performance in the Christian-led nonprofit arena is all about faithfully stewarding resources and tracking outcomes.  

But how do we know what needs to be measured? What key metrics should we focus on?  

To answer these important questions, Mission Triangle recently hosted the first of four small group sessions designed to drill deeper into the information presented at its 3rd quarter workshop on Performance Measurement.

Held over two days, 63 nonprofit leaders from 40 Triangle-area groups gathered in Raleigh to sharpen their focus on key metrics—and have some fun sharing fresh perspectives with each other.   

The main takeaways? Metrics must be well-defined because you’re going to manage what you measure. And clarity is the name of the game when it comes to determining your key metrics.

Not surprisingly, it all starts with your nonprofit’s mission—and how you know you’re moving from your mission to achieve your stated outcomes.

As Christian author and speaker Mike Bonem says, “You have to be clear about what your ultimate outcome is. If there is an available way to measure it, that with rigorous thinking and application of the mind God gave you, can make your organization a little better, you have to pursue that. Otherwise it becomes malpractice.”

Of course, nobody wants to be guilty of malpractice when stewarding their mission. So to get from mission to outcomes, nonprofit leaders must also track their inputs, processes, and outputs to see the outcomes and broader impact they’re having on society.

Here are some key metrics to consider:

  • People:  Board members, staff, volunteers, and donors
  • Processes: Effectiveness of meetings, time management, communications, fundraising campaigns, and budgets
  • Inputs: Money, time, talent, assets, infrastructure, and institutional knowledge
  • Outcomes: Change measured as a result of the inputs and processes
  • Impact: Long term, individual and societal transformation and advancement of God’s Kingdom

The bottom line in determining metrics for nonprofits is being able to better quantify in order to better explain the outcomes of the mission to champions and donors.

One nonprofit leader recently said that this exercise gave her permission to move beyond emotion and attach outcome numbers to people—and celebrate them!

Of course, one caution that should be emphasized is that a metric is simply a tool to understand and alter the mission for maximum impact and is never the end in itself

Rather, thriving people and Kingdom impact is always the end goal.

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